Heartbeat of the death- Kaiser Franz Stefan, oil on canvas, 411 x 175 cm, 2015
During its commemorative year the Hofburg Innsbruck offers an agenda rich in content
The Last Things in Life
An Exhibition about Death and Mourning 1765–2015
Tyrol’s close connection to Austria’s history and the Habsburg family will be visible
all year long. The Innsbruck Hofburg – former royal residence – is commemorating
emperor Francis Stephen’s sudden death in Innsbruck in the year 1765. Today – 250
years after these occurrences – the Hofburg presents itself as the most impressive
exhibition space of the country. Centre of the exhibition will be Haruko Maeda’s
work of art.
Today the state rooms of the Innsbruck Hofburg are still a reminder of the death of an
Emperor: Francis Stephen of Lorraine died there suddenly in 1765, and his widow –
Empress Maria Theresa – had the prestigious rooms of the imperial residence converted
into a memorial for her husband.
250 years later, an exhibition re-activates the Habsburg cult of death – and invites us to
reflect on our own response to death and mourning. The exhibition shows how old death
rituals have changed: aristocratic protocol replaced by burgher etiquette, and rural
traditions contrasted with urban modernity.
The exhibits tell their own stories about the fear of death, about premature deaths. New
death rituals are presented. The exhibition also shows how the memory of the dead was
preserved and confronts us with the fact that death is something that defies the
imagination and yet is ubiquitous.
The exhibits include everyday and traditional items, early mass media, valuable rarities,
and works of art and videos. Voices from the beyond are also to be heard. The exhibits
are on loan from Austrian and international collections.
The exhibition is a cooperation between Burghauptmannschaft Osterreich, Tiroler
Landesmuseen and Tiroler Hospiz-Gemeinschaft.